The story of the Pharaoh’s dreams in Genesis 41 showed that Joseph received the divine gift of divination to prepare the people to grapple with the impending crisis, said Rev. Dr Neddy Astudillo in the biblical reflection that opened the workshop on Climate Justice from a Multifaith, Post-Colonial and Grassroots Perspective at the World Council of Churches’ 11th Assembly.
Astudillo, a Venezuelan eco-theologian and Presbyterian pastor (PCUSA) based in the US who coordinates GreenFaith’s Latinx and Latin American Organizing and Training, said that as in times of Joseph and the Pharaoh, God has given us the spiritual gifts which allow us to transform ourselves, our communities and society to protect the planet and create a loving and just world.
GreenFaith, the interfaith environmental organization hosting the workshop in Karlsruhe, was founded in 1992 and is among the world's oldest religious-environmental groups. It works in the areas of education and training, local organizing, and campaigning and has played leadership roles in the world’s largest climate change mobilizations and the fossil fuel divestment movement.
Meryne Warah (Kenya) and Martin Kopp (France) spoke about concerted efforts by GreenFaith to denounce French oil company, Total, investment decision for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Contrary to the company’s claims, more than 100,000 persons and dozens of sensitive ecosystems in Uganda and Tanzania stand to suffer the consequences of the company’s actions.
GreenFaith was instrumental in organizing a visit by Christian delegations from Uganda and Tanzania to meet with Total top executives in Paris to express their concern that EACOP will bring climate chaos and biodiversity loss while already causing serious human rights violations.
Jocabed Reina Solano, director of Indigenous Memory of the Kuna Dule people in Panama, shared how, in their culture, when a child is born, the placenta, the umbilical cord and the seed of a tree are jointly sown. When that child grows up, he/she knows that, in addition to belonging to the community, is also connected to the Earth and, in a particular way, to that tree.
“The rituals of indigenous peoples are the source of our spirituality. Although there are different challenges for indigenous communities around the world, we are held together by the umbilical cord of life”, said Solano.
The mobilization of people of faith and religion fosters change, as demonstrated in the struggles for civil rights in the USA and against apartheid in South Africa, said Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest and Executive Director at GreenFaith.
When dealing with the climate crisis, it is worth reminding the Irish saying: “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join?”, said Rev. Harper. “We have found people from all over the world, from different faith communities, who have woken up and say that everybody must be involved in the fight to save our planet.”